You win some, you lose some

Today's good news: the very talented people for whom I shot this finally locked in cast and secured financing and location, officially moving their feature from pre-production to in production.

The bad news? In true Hollywood fashion, the part I was supposed to be playing went to the location owner's girlfriend.

First disclaimer: I'm not really railing about the unfairness of it all, at least, not much. For starters, I'm told she's eminently qualified, with a bona-fide resumé to back her up. And I'm sure were the roles reversed (no pun intended), I'd have no moral qualms about taking the gig. Next, it's a small part, not the kind that makes careers or piles of money. Truthfully, I'd forgotten about the gig until my friend who called to break the good/bad news to me this afternoon, and I know he felt worse about it than I did.

At least, at first.

ActresssmallIt's been a difficult year, career-wise. Thankfully, I'll make my insurance (SAG requires its members to earn a minimum amount working union jobs over a 12-month period in order to qualify), but in a year where my expenses were much higher than usual, my bookings were much lighter and the spots that did air, paid little. I got outgraded on one, a nice euphemism for cut the hell out of the thing, and none of them are paying the Big Money that most civilians seem to think commercial actors make (and, in fact, that we used to make, at least sometimes, in richer times with less media fragmentation).

So I'm living on savings, making money kind of an issue. But the other difficult thing has been the sharp drop-off in actual acting and creating that I've been involved in. I made a conscious decision a few years back to stop pursuing theatrical (film and TV) work, as the rate of return for my efforts had become deeply unsatisfying. For other reasons, some health-related, some personal and some completely random, I've basically stopped doing theater as well. My writing partner has had to take money work that basically makes her unavailable for working on our stuff, so the musical incarnation of #1 & #2 is no further along than it was at the start of the year.

As it gets harder and harder to land fewer and fewer jobs, I've thought seriously about dropping out of acting entirely, or at least, letting go of the notion until the competition thins a bit and I can play old ladies. And it's not just because I'm in a strange no-man's-land (pun sort-of intended), category-wise. I find myself uninspired by acting classes and happy to write...or design, or cook dinner, for that matter. As the old adage goes, if you don't have to act, don't.

I'm hoping that this is just me transitioning into the next incarnation of Colleen, Front and Center. Maybe it's really about me tiring of working for other people, the latest in a long series of moves to call my own shots. After all, I'm blogging online rather than journaling privately; it's hardly like I've lost the desire to get up in front of people and do stuff. (Unlike my retirement from copywriting, when I really and truly had, in the words of my old art director, lost the will to advertise.)

The thing is, it still hurts to lose the gig, even if it never really was mine to begin with. I know it's something I'll have to make my peace with, especially if I continue to make choices that put myself out there. And no matter what losses I sustain, since getting sick it's been much easier to clock my head a few degrees to the right and to see how much I have to be grateful for.

And there's always the idea that losing this opportunity makes me available for a better, cooler one.

But still, I want the job.

Or at least the opportunity to turn it down.